Monday, July 04, 2011

A Happy (Belated) 3rd of July

(Reposted from July 3rd, 2007)

No, the title isn't a typo - I mean it when I say happy third of July!  For me it's the most memorable day of the year!  Now, I certainly don't mean to take anything away from our nation's independence-day celebration so, happy fourth of July as well!  

There is no doubt that the fourth of July is a great day of celebration concerning our freedom as citizens of this great nation.  Much blood has been shed in order to procure our American liberty, and for this we ought to be very grateful.  As we take time to reflect on the significance of our national blessings, we can thank the Lord that we live in a land where we still have the freedom to worship and proclaim Christ to the masses who need to hear the Gospel message.  But I have to say, for myself, that the 3rd trumps the 4th immeasurably.  I'm not being unpatriotic when I say this - I'm just being realistic.  You see it was on the third of July 1981, while I was serving in the Air Force, in Okinawa Japan, that I heard the Gospel message and trusted Christ as my Lord and Savior.  I'll never forget that day.  The unbearable burden of my sin had been taken away and for the first time in my life I became, by God's sovereign and precious grace, a truly free man.

July third 1981 fell on a Friday that year.  I have vivid memories of that day as I went about in a kind of heavenly daze.  The world around me seemed to fade into the background of this great truth that I was forgiven; that I was a child of God and there was therefore no condemnation on me because I was Christ's possession forevermore! 

Now I do recall being invited by some co-workers to go see a fireworks display on base the very next day, and I gladly accepted their offer.  While I can say that the fireworks display was spectacular, it seemed to be a faint light compared to the explosion of joy that the Lord granted me just the day before.  Ever since then I have spent my subsequent July 4ths celebrating a day early - by remembering that moment when I was granted freedom in Christ, by His shed blood.  This is real freedom, one that no one can take away. If you remain uncertain concerning the state of your own soul, please consider the following:

The Word of God teaches us that the God and Creator of the universe deserves all of our love and obedience: "Worthy are You [God] to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things" (Revelation 4:11)

But sadly, all of mankind has sinned and rebelled against this worthy God and because of that sin, all men stand condemned in His sight - Romans 3:23 "..all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." "..the wages of sin is death.." Rom 6:23.

Therefore, man is eternally separated from God and faces the severe consequences of eternal death - though man deserves this death (because of sin) something must be understood - " ..God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8.

Christ paid the debt that men owe by living a perfect life and then dying on a cross in the sinner's stead. He was raised from the dead on the third day and will return again in order to judge the living and the dead (Acts 17:24-31). Jesus said "..God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16). This is the great expectation of every Christian. The Lord has commissioned His children to share this good news with all men! But how does one receive this wonderful pardon and life in Christ? - "..if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;" Romans 10:9. Please do not underestimate the importance of these truths, for Jesus also said - "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" John 3:18.

Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin (John 8:34); but when a person places their faith and trust in Christ they will be free indeed (John 8:36).  True freedom comes not from the governmental institutions established by men; instead it comes from the only One who has the power to set men from from the bondage of sin and death - the Lord Jesus Christ.